Al Horford hit the game-winning layup with 5.5 seconds left in overtime as the visiting Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-98 Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The 76ers called timeout, after Horford's basket. On the ensuing inbounds play, Horford stole the pass from Ben Simmons to Joel Embiid and made two free throws. Marco Belinelli missed a desperation 3-pointer as time expired to seal the result.
"We're trying to find a way, and this group is playing hard every night," Horford told ESPN after the game, referring to the Celtics' deep playoff push without injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
"A lot of opportunities," Simmons said when asked about his own turnover and a few others that came late in the game. "A lot of mistakes were made. It's frustrating when you know what the mistakes are."
Boston won the first two games of the series at home, beating Philadelphia 117-101 in Game 1 and 108-103 in Game 2 on Thursday. The Celtics are 36-0 in franchise history when leading a playoff series 2-0.
No team has ever won a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0. Game 4 is Monday night in Philadelphia.
"You can't win all four at once," JJ Redick said. "Our focus has to be on Monday and extending the series to five games.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 24 points, Terry Rozier had 18 points, Jaylen Brown scored 16 and Horford finished with 13. Tatum became the first Celtics rookie ever to score 20 or more points five times in the postseason.
Embiid had 22 points and 19 rebounds to pace the 76ers. Redick scored 18, and Simmons had 16 with eight rebounds and eight assists after scoring only one point in the Game 2 defeat.
The Celtics snapped a six-game road losing streak dating back to March 28 against the Utah Jazz in the regular season, including all three games in their seven-game, first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Simmons' driving layup with 1:05 remaining in overtime put Philadelphia up 98-94. Tatum brought the Celtics within two on his layup with 55.4 seconds left.
Horford made one of two free throws with 42.5 seconds left to bring Boston within a point. Simmons missed a layup on the other end with 17.2 seconds remaining, and Boston's Marcus Morris came down with the rebound.
With the game tied at 85 entering the last minute of regulation, Belinelli was fouled and made two free throws to put the 76ers ahead by two with 41.2 ticks to play.
Brown tied it on a layup with 24 seconds left. He gave the Celtics an 89-87 lead after Rozier came up with a Redick turnover and fed Brown on a two-on-one break with 1.7 seconds to play.
Belinelli's turnaround corner jumper as time expired sent the game to OT. His foot was on the arc, so the two-point shot merely tied the game instead of winning it, but many in the home crowd initially thought it was a 3-pointer. The confetti drop was accidentally triggered after Belinelli's jumper, leading to a lengthy delay to clear off the court before the start of overtime.
LeBron James banked in a running floater as time expired to cap off a 38-point effort, and the Cleveland Cavaliers took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a dramatic 105-103 victory over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Kevin Love recorded 21 points and 16 rebounds as fourth-seeded Cleveland defeated Toronto for the ninth straight time during the postseason. Kyle Korver made four 3-pointers while scoring 18 points, George Hill had 12 points and Jeff Green tallied 11 for the Cavaliers.
Kyle Lowry had 27 points and seven assists for the top-seeded Raptors, who are one defeat away from being eliminated by Cleveland in the playoffs for the third straight season. Sidekick DeMar DeRozan had an off night with just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and didn't play in the final quarter.
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series is Monday in Cleveland.
On the decisive play, James received the inbounds pass with eight seconds left under the opposite basket. He drove the length of the floor, headed slightly to the left of the lane and smoothly kissed the 9-footer off the glass.
"I had to get open," James said in a postgame interview with ESPN. "Took it full court and I was able to hit a floater off the glass. ... It's my job in the fourth (quarter) to close it. ...
"We could play so much better, but it was a gutsy win."
James added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in his latest stellar effort.
OG Anunoby scored 18 points and CJ Miles added 13 for Toronto, which committed 17 turnovers. Serge Ibaka had 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots, and Jonas Valanciunas added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors.
Toronto recovered from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit to make it a one-possession game. Anunoby drained a 3-pointer to tie it at 103 with eight seconds remaining before James reached into his extensive bag of tricks.
James opened the second half with a dunk to give Cleveland a 57-40 lead before Toronto answered with 12 consecutive points to move within five.
The Cavaliers again pushed the lead back into the double digits, and Love's three-point play made it 73-59 with 3:21 to play. Love scored nine straight Cleveland points, including two free throws that accounted for a 77-61 edge.
The Raptors trailed by 14 entering the final stanza, but Lowry's 3-pointer and ensuing layup helped cut the Cavaliers' lead to 85-80 with 8:12 left. James scored the next five points to push the Cleveland lead right back to 10 points.
The Raptors eventually trimmed their deficit to 97-95 with 2:52 remaining thanks to Anunoby's 3-pointer and Lowry's two free throws.
James scored 15 first-half points as the Cavaliers established a 55-40 advantage.
Cleveland led 16-4 less than seven minutes into the game as the Raptors missed 10 of their 12 shots. The Cavaliers later finished the half with a 16-2 surge to take the 15-point lead into the break.
Kevin Durant scored 38 points as the Golden State Warriors increased their series lead to 3-1 with a 118-92 victory over the home-standing New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday afternoon in the Smoothie King Center.
The defending NBA champion Warriors can close out the Western Conference semifinal series when they host Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Stephen Curry added 23 points, Klay Thompson scored 13 and Quinn Cook came off the bench to score 12 for Golden State.
Anthony Davis had 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pelicans, who were looking to even the series after a 119-100 victory Friday. E'Twaun Moore scored 20 and Jrue Holiday had 19.
Golden State shot 48.9 percent from the floor, including 33 percent on 3-pointers, and New Orleans shot 36.8 percent, including just 16 percent on 3-pointers.
The Warriors, who led by as many as 18 points in the first quarter before settling for a seven-point halftime lead, quickly rebuilt the margin to start the third quarter. Curry's 3-pointer completed an opening 10-2 run that gave them a 71-56 lead barely two minutes into the second half.
The closest the Pelicans could get was 11 points before the Warriors built the lead to 23 and took a 94-73 advantage after three quarters.
The Warriors began the game with more intensity than they showed in Game 3 and it was evident on both ends of the court.
Golden State shot 60 percent and New Orleans shot 29 percent in the first quarter, which ended with the Warriors holding a 37-22 lead.
The Pelicans chipped away in the second quarter, thanks in large part to their ability to make 3-pointers and get to the foul line.
The Warriors made one more field goal than the Pelicans in the second quarter (11-10), but New Orleans made three 3-pointers and nine free throws and Golden State missed all six of its 3-pointers and made just two free throws.
The Pelicans got as close as four points before the Warriors took a 61-54 halftime lead behind Durant's 20 points.
Chris Paul and Clint Capela recorded double-doubles and the visiting Houston Rockets turned a stifling defensive performance into a 100-87 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Rockets can close out the best-of-seven series on Tuesday in Game 5 at Houston.
With the Rockets shooting miserably from the perimeter -- Houston missed 28 of 38 3-point attempts -- Paul was a terror in the midrange, finishing with a game-high 27 points plus 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals. He committed just one turnover on his 33rd birthday.
Capela continued his series-long domination of Jazz center Rudy Gobert, posting 12 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and two steals. James Harden scored 24 points on 8-of-22 shooting.
The Jazz were stifled throughout offensively, shooting a series-worst 38.6 percent, including 7 for 29 on 3-point attempts.
Donovan Mitchell paced Utah with 25 points but shot 8 of 24 from the floor. Joe Ingles added 15 points and eight boards while Gobert had 11 points and 10 boards but had a game-worst minus-27 rating in the Rockets' wire-to-wire win.
Houston led by as many as 19 points.
The Rockets didn't allow the desperate Jazz an early emotional foothold, darting to an eight-point lead by the midpoint of the first quarter and holding on through a Utah run led by Dante Exum, who scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the opening period.
The penultimate Exum basket of the first pulled the Jazz to within 21-19, but Houston pushed the lead back to seven and stretched it to 38-23 when Luc Mbah a Moute converted a three-point play early in the second.
That early burst in the second provided the Rockets the cushion they needed to overcome their errant shooting.
Harden and Paul combined for 30 first-half points but missed all six of their 3-point attempts. Houston had to rely on defense, and it proved up to the task until Mitchell caught fire late in the half, scoring eight consecutive points to pull the Jazz to within five points. Harden then converted a driving layup and Paul a three-point play to push the lead to 58-48 at the break.
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